Former Tereora pupil returns as an architect

Friday January 19, 2018 Written by Published in Local
The much-acclaimed Mutotara House, in Muriwai, Auckland, was designed by TOA Architects. 18011802 The much-acclaimed Mutotara House, in Muriwai, Auckland, was designed by TOA Architects. 18011802

A New Zealand architect who attended high school in Rarotonga has returned to work on local projects, and says he hopes to find opportunities to use modern pre-fabricated and modular construction technologies to efficiently produce buildings appropriate for the Cook Islands.

 

Says Tim Merkens of TOA Architects: "We are aware of a number of recently completed buildings in Rarotonga where poor quality construction methods and materials have been attributed to foreign developers using foreign workers unfamiliar with the constraints of building here.”

After graduating from Tereora College in 2002, Merkens returned to New Zealand to study architecture at the University of Auckland. He then spent almost 10 years with a long-established architecture practice specialising in large scale commercial work. In 2017 he followed his heart and joined TOA Architects, a practice which he says is rapidly emerging as the pre-eminent specialist of modern Maori and Pacific architecture in New Zealand.

 "The company’s philosophy reflects the Maori translation of “toa” - strength, bravery and cutting new ground,” explains director and founder Nicholas Dalton.

"We approach architecture differently. We value the tangata – people, whenua - our land and its history; aroha - heart; and wairua - spirit. These are the concepts that inspire our architecture. And TOA takes seriously its role as kaitiaki - guardians of our clients’ and communities’ projects, as well as the wider environment".

Dalton and Merkens are excited about their ambitious “Maori Modular Housing Project.”

"TOA Architects are committed to delivering 1,000 houses by 2020 in New Zealand with the new government’s Kiwibuild programme in mind, which aims to provide 100,000 affordable houses over the next 10 years.”

"To achieve such a vast scale of construction whilst staying true to our design vision and quality standard, we have partnered with XLam, (a supplier of sustainable engineered building solutions in natural solid wood), Mike Greer Homes and importantly, transportation and freight companies," Dalton says.

"By having major building elements constructed off site in controlled factory conditions, then being flat packed and transported to site for assembly we are seeing huge savings in on site construction time, more predictable construction costs, more consistent quality and less material wastage,” says Merkens. "

"The next step for us is to use New Zealand’s prefabricated construction technology to ship buildings to the Pacific Islands. It is imperative for us that local contractors and craftspeople see the projects through to completion and leave their mark on them.”

TOA Architects have 16 staff and work across a wide range of project types specialising in residential, hospitality, hotel and wellness retreats.

Representatives of the company are now on Rarotonga working on multiple housing projects and say they are thrilled at the opportunity to engage with Cook Islanders regarding future work.    - Release

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